Wilson Explains Outburst During Obama Speech
COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson on Thursday discussed his outburst during President Barack Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress.
Wilson's interjection - he shouted "You lie" after Obama stated that illegal immigrants would not be covered under a federal health insurance program, caused a nationwide storm of controversy. The lawmaker later apologized for the outburst.
"I called the chief of staff (Rahm Emmanuel) of the president and I apologized that I spoke out," Wilson said in a interview with WLTX on Thursday. "I also appreciated the response that we should have a civil discussion on the issues and that's what I'm prepared to do."
Obama told reporters Thursday that he accepted Wilson's apology, and that "people make mistakes."
Wilson said going into the speech, he had serious concerns about illegal immigrants and coverage, based on what he'd seen.
"I knew that there had been two amendments by Republicans in the Ways and Means and Commerce committee that would have provided enforcement for verification of citizenship, and both of those amendments have been defeated by the Democrats."
"I don't think that maybe he knew what was in the bill," Wilson said. "I've read the bill. The bill does promote noncoverage for illegal aliens except that there's no enforcement of it. The wording is incomplete."
As for making an outburst during a speech, Wilson said he overreacted, but says it's because he is looking out for his constituents.
"I'm passionate trying to protect the people I represent," Wilson said. "The people I represent are very concerned about a government takeover of insurance (and) when there was a misstatement, that was too much."
Wilson said he's willing to work to achieve common ground.
"I look forward to moving forward with Democrats and Republicans for a bipartisan bill that would help the American people," he said.